Carl Helfried Barbé

Russian, 19th century

Snuff box, c. 1818–1864

gold, grey agate

2 x 9.7 x 7 cm

Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Gift of Dr. Stephen Brown



Objet d'art, Decorative Arts Silver

Europeans first encountered snuff in the 1490s with the discovery of the New World. Snuff soon established itself in Europe for more than its medicinal powers, becoming a pleasurable undertaking and a staple of the royal and upper classes. Snuff boxes logically followed, mirroring the fashionable qualities of the contents they held. Carl Helfried Barbé was living in St. Petersburg in 1806, the year he joined the Foreigners’ Guild, a guild deemed necessary given the sheer number of foreign craftsmen working in the Russian capital, a recognized centre for manufacture. In 1811 Barbé was admitted into the Russian Guild, reflecting his reputation as one of Russia’s most prominent craftsmen and gold box makers. A true piece of luxury, this gold snuff box is inset with an agate cameo carved in the classical style.

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